While job interviews are a great opportunity for you to advance your career, work for someone new, get back in the market or move your life in a different direction, they can be quite stressful.
It can be a daunting process for some people, and it begins from the moment you send a resume to the moment you bid goodbye to your interviewer.
To ace an interview, a great determining factor in securing a job, there are many things that one should consider, from preparation to body language and even controlling emotions during the interview.
So, what are some of the top things you should always do before or during an interview?
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Preparation is arguably the most essential part of any interview, and it entails a couple of things. Doing your homework and researching the company will give you an upper hand as it shows your interest in the business.
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Check out the organisation’s website or social media pages and gather information like its current projects and clients, its products and services, what the media is saying about the company, and its values, mission, and culture.
A study by Millennial Branding showed that 43 per cent of HR professionals believe being culturally fit is the most important quality job seekers can have during the hiring process.
“Knowing a company’s vision will help you to tailor all your answers to what the company stands for during an interview,” says Janet Martin, a Human Resource Administration Manager at Standard Group PLC.
But do not limit yourself to that alone – ensure you do a background check on your interviewers on LinkedIn, their career history, and achievements. Putting on your detective hat and investigating potential employers could help you discover details about the company that will prepare you better for any interview.
Also, rehearse the questions by doing a mock trial with your friend or family member or practice in front of a mirror. Doing trial and test errors helps ease your anxiety before the interview by giving you the confidence to answer questions fluently.
Practising in front of a mirror helps you learn your body language – hand movements, upright posture, eye contact, or facial expressions – all fundamental during the interview.
A meta-analysis done on 50 different studies suggested that the five best body language gestures – smiling, laughing, maintaining eye contact, subtle imitation of the other person’s gestures, and limited physical closeness – make a good impression.
To impress your interviewer, you have to dress the part. Take your time picking the appropriate outfit, depending on the role, and try to portray a positive image. The last thing you want on the day of the interview is to have a frantic panic hunting for suitable attire.
And contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as being overdressed. If you show up in a formal suit at a company that operates on a policy of smart-casual, they might think you are not the right fit for the organisation and its ethos.
Don’t forget to write down the address of the company or the route you will have to take to the interview. It might sound obvious but imagine how embarrassing it would be if you got lost on the day of the interview.
Think of the questions you would like to know that might have popped up during your research and write them down clearly for the interview. Doing this prevents you from having an awkward silence should the interviewer ask if you have any questions.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Before you begin the interview, try and calm your nerves. It is inevitable to get anxious during an interview, but channelling those emotions in the right way could help you be at your best. Do not look at the interview as a personal interrogation but rather as a professional conversation.
They say first impressions count, and so you need to sell yourself from the moment you walk in. Confidence should be your main attire so avoid looking standoffish or unapproachable. A study by Albert Mehrabian, a professor of communications, found that the relative importance of body language when conveying a message is 55 per cent, compared to 38 per cent of tone and 7 per cent of words.
Some studies indicate that interviewers make up their minds about the candidate in the first five minutes of the interview, so be sure to score a success within that timeframe. You can start with a positive comment about the company and the contributions you would like to make to certain fields.
Clarify your selling points, and do not bury them in long-winded stories. Pick about three to five strong points telling what makes you the best candidate and give examples to back them up. Employers will not go for an average applicant when the competition for the vacancy is high, and that is why you should present your most outstanding skills.
Be mindful of the statements you make, as one bad remark is enough to mess up the whole interview. Most interviewers will ignore the achievements one had highlighted and easily reject a candidate for one negative comment they made. Instead, be positive and talk about the good experiences.
Intently listen to avoid the interviewer repeating questions, and do not be in a rush to respond, otherwise interrupting your potential employer. Being a good listener shows that you are respectful and have great interpersonal skills.
Remember not to speak ill about your former or current employees, regardless of the experiences you have had. This is normally a huge red flag for any candidate and questions their professionalism as the interviewer might assume that you will do the same to them.
Lastly, do not give false information. For instance, if you are probed on an area that is not your strong suit, be honest about it and let your interviewer know that you are willing to learn and how you can gain the skills for that particular area, say a short online course. However, follow this up with another strength you could bring to the table.